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Don’t Panic: Google Site Search Replacements

Don’t Panic: Google Site Search Replacements

Google’s discontinuing site search.


The Problem

Google’s Site Search product has been around a long time. Pay $100, and you can embed a little Google search engine on your site.

They’re keeping Google Custom Search. Sounds great, but there’s a problem:

Ads? In my site search? I think not.

Ads? In my site search? I think not.

Where are the search results? They stuffed the top of the SERP with ads. Keep scrolling, and you’ll see Portent.com content. Why the hell would I want “SEOCompanies.com” showing up in a search on my site!!???? I don’t.

We’re going to need options. Here’s what I’ve got so far. No one’s paid me or promised me anything. I did all testing without talking to the provider:

Amazon Web Services CloudSearch

Amazon Web Services CloudSearch. Like a lot of AWS services, I find setting it up slightly easier than stuffing myself through a keyhole.

For example, if you’re using it for onsite search, you’ll have to set up a crawler to deliver site content to the search engine. Or, you can upload manually. Eesh. But I’m not a developer. This kind of gadgetry may be trivial if you’re more of a code geek than I.

They charge based on use. A small engine costs about $500 per year, max. It has a lot more options than Google, too.

If you’ve got the nerd-fu, go for it.


AddSearch is a nifty option. A small search engine (up to 1200 pages) costs $269 per year.

AddSearch automatically re-crawls your site. It doesn’t show ads. It has some nifty gadgets like social search integration. It’s an easy setup—no harder than Google, in my experience.

I messed with the free trial a long time ago. I couldn’t make it blow up. It supports SSL (assume that for any available search engine).

Thumbs up.


I haven’t yet used Swiftype. Mostly because the smallest version costs $299/month. Cough.

But it looks like a powerhouse: Spell check, API, field weighting, geographic targeting, sorting, bigrams… (insert more nerdy stuff here).

Note that the basic $299/month version doesn’t include some of the cooler features. Still, it’s pretty kick-ass. If you have a big site and need an enterprise option, consider shelling out the cash.

Remember that Google Custom Search was a ridiculous bargain with some arse-kicking limitations. $299/month seems like a lot. But read the docs and use the trial before you rule out Swiftype.

If you’ve used Swiftype, please leave a comment.


Cludo is another one I haven’t tried. They’re mum on pricing, which tells me they’re probably pricey. I talked to a few developers, though, and they seemed happy with it (they didn’t know what their companies paid). Cludo offers a lot of the same features as Swiftype. I’d include them in your research list when you look for options.

I’ll be trying them out shortly.

Update: Cludo published pricing here. Their starting package is similar to Swifttype: $299.

Apache Solr

I love Solr. It’s free. It’s faster than money at a casino (I have no idea what that means). For me, it’s slightly easier than setting up AWS CloudSearch. And it includes a crawler.

It runs on your server. That’s part of why it’s so freaking fast. But that also means you have to have access to your server.

Some hosts provide Solr. Do a quick Google search. I don’t want to play favorites, and I haven’t used any.

Did I mention it’s free?…

Platform-Specific Options and Other Geekery

WordPress has a built-in search tool. Forget it.

Django has a built-in tool I haven’t used. Drupal’s search module works a little better than guessing.

Hosting providers often have their own. Use with caution.

Growing the List

I’ll revisit this list in the next week or so, and keep adding more options. We’re gonna need ’em.

Published at Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:12:17 +0000

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